Axe grinder 09.12.05

Exec for hire, slightly soiled

TAINTED AND TARNISHED by her three-year affair with former Home
Secretary David Blunkett, Kimberly Quinn has been quietly making moves
to leave The Spectator.

It is not looking good, I hear. After being interviewed for the job
of publisher at Prospect, the eggheads’ favourite monthly mag, the
44-year-old has been rejected.

The post has gone, instead, to former Economist marketing manager John Kelly. He starts work next week.

Where does that leave Quinn?

“She
is completely thrown,” I was told at an intimate dinner party hosted by
friends of Quinn. “Kim reckoned she would get the job and, on paper,
she is certainly capable of doing it. She thought that she was in with
a great chance.”

Those close to Quinn are convinced she failed to
land the job at Prospect because of her infamous, duvet-shaking
exploits with Blunkett. “She cannot be taken seriously,” said one
dinner guest.

Prospect(ive) employers who are interested in
hiring Quinn might like to study Axegrinder’s hastilycompiled 60-word
CV of the exec…

 

No enthusiasm for flagging up David’s column

STICKING
with David Blunkett (someone has to)… When Sun editor Rebekah Wade
hired him to write a weekly column she forgot to tell her deputy,
Fergus ‘Bogus’ Shanahan, about her star signing.

“What have we
got then for tomorrow’s paper?” asked Bogus last week, when Wade was
not around. Bogus paled as he was told that one of the planned features
was an interview with Blunkett. It was an article, he was told, that
was flagging up “David’s new column”

for The Sun.

“What
column?” asked Bogus, clearly miffed that he had once again been kept
out of the loop… (Lawyer’s note: This item contains ridicule,
persistent jeering and derogatory characterisation.)n

 

The mystery of the vanishing Indy pudding

THERE’S been thieving at The Independent. A luxury, brandy-rich
Christmas pudding has been snatched just a few feet from editor Simon
Kelner’s office.

While Kelner has been carrying out the mundane business of running a
daily newspaper, his personal assistant Denise Thompson has been
heading up an important investigation to find the sweet-toothed
pilferer.

Parallels are being drawn between PA Thompson and DI Jane Tennison, the cop played by Helen Mirren in TV’s Prime Suspect.

Thompson has quizzed various hacks to establish last known sightings.

What
she has noted so far… (1) The pudding arrived at the Indy’s Canary
Wharf HQ on Friday, 26 November in a red carrier bag, addressed to
Christopher Hirst, author of the paper’s Weasel column.

(2) The bag was left on a desk outside Kelner’s office on the second floor.

(3) When staff pitched up for work on Monday, 29 November, the treat had vanished before Hirst could collect it.

Thompson
emailed staff last week, saying: “We would be most grateful if the
pudding could be returned. No questions asked… Otherwise we will be
checking the CCTV footage!”

Stop press: major development. The thief, it seems, might have eaten the pud but he/she has replaced it.

Thompson
has dispatched a staff email: “Thank you to whoever left a Christmas
pudding on my chair over the weekend. This (substitute) pudding will be
winging its way to Christopher Hirst so that he can have a Happy
Christmas after all.”

Cracking stuff.

(Lawyer’s note: This item contains ridicule, persistent jeering and derogatory characterisation.)n

 

‘You better? You better? You bet!’

gushes celeb ADDICTIVE celeb magazine Grazia, “Britain’s first weekly glossy”, apparently sells itself to women.

For
instance, it excitedly announces: “The Grazia girls have been thinking
about one thing and one thing only – yes, what shoes to team with their
party d r e s s e s .

W h e t h e r you want burnished, bejewelled, sky-high or flats – we’ll get you ready to party…”

S u b s c – r i b e r s , meanwhile, are offered a free pot of Kinerase Intensive cream.

And there’s a readers’

offer
to buy “a cute, weather-logo sweatshirt from Bonnie & Clyde, with a
polka-dot cloud on the front and a funky rainbow on the back – it’s
retro, stylish and fun all at the same time.”

Editor Jane Bruton
was surprised therefore to receive a letter from a certain male
celebrity telling her that he’s an avid reader of ” b r i l l i a n t “

Grazia.

Who
is the star that wrote in to praise the mag that loves party dresses,
must-have heels, rainbow-covered sweatshirts and face cream? Who is it?
Who is it? Who?

Who? Who?

Yes, Grazia’s new fan is none other than Mr Pete Townshend, the legendary Who guitarist and all-round working man’s hero.

(Lawyer’s note: This item contains ridicule, persistent jeering and derogatory characterisation.)n

 

Huffin’, Puffin’ and “The Muffin Man”

On
the subject of alleged ridicule, persistent jeering and derogatory
characterisation… Mark Sinclair, the genial occasional night lawyer of
the Irish Daily Mirror, writes to say that he has been instructed by
John Kierans, the red-top’s editor, concerning a recent Axegrinder
article, entitled “Plummeting Morale thanks to Muffin Man”.

In a
1,100-word letter, Mr Sinclair states: “As the editor of a national
newspaper my client is a firm believer in the freedom of the press and
the right of every person freely to express opinions in a robust and
forthright fashion… “However, the article published in your journal
goes far beyond what could be considered acceptable and is a false,
defamatory, vindictive and malicious personalised attack on him in his
personal and professional capacity.

“Mr Kierans is not known to
his staff as the Muffin Man. That epithet is a fiction created in a
previous edition of Press Gazette. Mr Kierans’ initial reaction to this
‘nickname’ was to take it in good heart and humour. However, it now
appears from your latest article that it is part of a concerted effort
by Press Gazette to ridicule him and to undermine him in his position
as editor through persistent jeering and derogatory characterisation.”

Mr
Sinclair continues: “Your article states that John Kierans is
responsible for plummeting morale in the Irish Daily Mirror… “The clear
inference from this is that Mr Kierans, through his conduct, has
personally brought about staff departures by neglecting his staff or by
alienating them and driving them away. You exacerbate this falsehood
with the further suggestion that he sought to shirk any responsibility
for such alleged behaviour by holidaying abroad in an effort to avoid
Sly Bailey and by being uncontactable to the extent that Ms Bailey was
forced to search for him.

“The claim that Ms Bailey is searching
for Mr Kierans suggests that she is pursuing him for an explanation or
to reprimand reproach or rebuke him for his alleged failings as an
editor and his dereliction of his professional responsibilities.

This is entirely false.”

Axegrinder’s
“depiction of the exchange between Mr Kierans and Jackie Cahill omits
vital facts” writes Mr Sinclair (though this column’s assertion that
the word “arsehole” was used by one party in that “exchange” is not
contested by Mr Sinclair, nor is the matter of Cahill’s suspension).

Mr
Sinclair calls upon Axegrinder to apologise. Immediately. Axegrinder,
of course, offers sincere apologies for what has been interpreted as
ridicule, persistent jeering and derogatory characterisation.

 

Yes, officer, I am a Tony crony…

ROBIN Cook’s memorial service at Westminster on Monday was blighted,
I can reveal, when Evening Standard diarist James Hughes-Onslow had a
brush with the boys in blue after telling them he was a friend of the
Prime Minister.

Let’s start from the beginning… Hughes-Onslow arrived at St
Margaret’s, the “parish church” of the House of Commons, to cover the
service, but, as he did not have a ticket, he was not allowed in.

Hovering
in the chill outside, he strolled back to his parked moped and changed
into his snug motorbike leathers before heading back to the church
entrance. An eagle-eyed policeman said, “Hey, didn’t I just see you
wearing a grey suit?”

When Hughes-Onslow explained that he had,
quite simply, put on his leathers to keep warm, police (for reasons not
known) became suspicious. He was asked to produce identification, but
had none.

“Is there anyone here who can identify you?” asked the cop.

“Yes,” replied Hughes-Onslow, “Tony Blair.” (He has known Blair since schooldays.)n “You’re having a laugh,” said the cop.

And that’s when it turned nasty.

Hughes-Onslow said that his “snapper”

would be able to ID him, but when he turned around the photographer was halfway back to the office.

Hughes-Onslow then pointed to a nearby plaque on which one of his ancestors’ names is inscribed. Alas, it was no good.

He
was quizzed under the Prevention of Terrorism Act. After being
cautioned he was released on the proviso that he present himself at a
police station the following day with the necessary ID.

(Lawyer’s note: The above item does not contain ridicule, persistent jeering or derogatory characterisation.)n

 

Ol’ Bifo knows how to bear a rude nickname

ON A SAD NOTE… Ray Mills, former deputy editor of the Daily Star, is being treated for cancer at a hospital in Watford.

Ray will not be displeased if I remind readers that (when he was
Lloyd Turner’s deputy) Star staff knew him – with much affection – as
Bifo. It stood for Big Ignorant Fucker from Oldham.

When he fell from a ladder his nickname was changed to Biffol. It stood for Big Ignorant Fucker Fell Off Ladder.

You
will have to take my word for it when I say that Ray has cherished
these nicknames and is particularly proud of them. Axegrinder wishes
him well.

 

Hold the phone – we’re loath to pay the bill

MEANWHILE, cost-cutting at Richard Desmond’s Daily Star has
developed a tragicomic edge. Hacks have been instructed not to file
copy by phone because “it is too expensive”.

Intrepid reporters who are on the road (hitch-hiking, of course, and
dining on cheese-and-pickle sarnies)n should now send their stories by
email.

Staff who arrive at the scene of a story are advised to
delay the wining and dining of potential contacts while they locate the
nearest internet cafe.

(Lawyer’s note: This item contains ridicule, persistent jeering and derogatory characterisation.)n

 

the 1pm girl

THE
Evening Standard’s op-ed pages carry regular morsels entitled “And
Incidentally”, occasionally written by one Sandra Barwick.

Could she be the same Sandra Barwick who was, until recently, letters editor of the Telegraph?

The
same Sandra Barwick who threatened legal action against the Evening
Standard after its media section ran a short article alleging that she
was a difficult boss?

That particular Sandra Barwick ended up
victorious. The Standard printed an apology and there was talk about
Barwick ending up with her costs being paid by the paper. Is Standard
editor Veronica Wadley so full of Christian forgiveness that she could
dish out a job to the woman who gave her a pasting?

THE SOAP OPERA that is otherwise known as David “Crackers”

Cracknell’s search for a deputy continues with yet more dramatic twists and turns.

The Sun’s Nic Cecil had been approached about Andy Porter’s job, as mentioned recently by my colleague, Axegrinder.

But
now it is rumoured that Crackers is waving a contract under the
lightly-freckled nose of Isabel Oakeshott, number four on the Evening
Standard’s political team. Umpteen hacks and hackettes have politely
declined the job so far. The hunt for a deputy is being described as
“the most gruelling search since the Crusaders set off for the Holy
Grail”.

ROD Stewart always likes to keep the papers happy. Why
else would he give his latest sprog the middle name Wallace? It is
surely a salute to Daily Mirror editor Richard Wallace, whose paper
broke the story that Rod’s current blonde, Penny Lancaster, was
preggers.

THE LATEST on the Spectator editorship: Tatler editor
Geordie Greig is out of the running. I am told that Speccie chief
Andrew Neil “has ruled him out” as Boris Johnson’s successor.

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